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People v. Porter

AUGUST 9, 1973.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

RICHARD PORTER, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. FRANCIS J. BERGEN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SIMKINS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant, Richard Porter, Jr., was convicted of the unlawful sale of a narcotic drug in violation of Illinois Revised Statute, chapter 38, paragraph 22-3.

The offense arose out of the sale of four capsules of heroin to an addict-informer on September 30, 1969. Three special agents of the Illinois Bureau of Investigation, which employed the informant, testified that they searched him and his car, gave him $20 and then followed him to the defendant's home. The agents observed the informant enter the house where defendant lived with his mother and soon emerge accompanied by the defendant. The informant then departed and turned four capsules of heroin over to the agents. The agents testified that the informant was in their view at all times except the minute or two while he was in the defendant's home and that he was not close enough to any other persons to have received the narcotics.

Defendant's mother testified that she answered the door when the informant came and that he and her son then went outside to talk. The informant testified that when he entered the house he saw no one other than the defendant who gave him four capsules of heroin in exchange for $20.

The defendant contends that he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt since the only evidence against him was based on the testimony of an addict-informer.

The testimony of an addict-informer is to be viewed with great suspicion and the general rule is that a narcotics conviction may not rest on the uncorroborated testimony of such a person. (People v. Bazemore, 25 Ill.2d 74, 182 N.E.2d 649.) However, that case and others cited by the defendant involved a situation where there was minimal police surveillance of the transaction to corroborate such testimony, generally where the informant made the purchase in a public place such as a pool hall so that "* * * the informer was at liberty to name almost any person he wished to select as the guilty one." 25 Ill.2d, at 77.

• 1 Testimony of an addict-informer may be believed, especially when it is corroborated by other witnesses. (People v. Smith, 40 Ill.2d 501, 241 N.E.2d 185.) Convictions may be affirmed where the actual exchange was not witnessed if attendant circumstances lend credence to the informer's testimony. (People v. Hill, 83 Ill. App.2d 116, 227 N.E.2d 117.) In the instant case, the addict-informer's testimony is credible under the surrounding circumstances and where the trier of fact saw and heard the informant's testimony, this court will not substitute its judgment on the matter of credibility of the testimony and the weight to be given it.

• 2 The defendant raises the issue of undue restriction on his cross-examination of the addict-informer as to the informant's recent involvement with narcotics and any additional convictions since the ones previously disclosed, and the state's failure to disclose a 1970 conviction for the sale of a non-narcotic substance as a narcotic. The state had disclosed and fully brought out at trial that the informant had four earlier convictions and was a former user and addict of narcotics. Therefore, the non-disclosure of the 1970 offense which occurred after the controlled sale to defendant Porter and to which the informer plead guilty and received six years probation before defendant Porter's trial began, would not greatly affect the jury's evaluation of the informant's credibility, nor would it constitute the knowing suppression of evidence favorable to the defendant as condemned in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215. This issue need not be pursued further since we have determined that other grounds require a new trial.

During the state's attorney's redirect examination of the addict-informer, the following exchange took place:

"Q. With respect to your work for the Illinois Division of Narcotics, Mr. Wesley, were you — did you cut yourself into Mr. Horton, Cornbread?

A. I did.

Q. And did you cut yourself into any other subjects with respect to the sale of narcotics?

A. I did.

Q. And these were in 1969, is ...


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